Kenozersky National Park was established in 1991, in southwest Archaangelsk Region, near the border of the Republic of Karelia. The park was created to preserve the unique natural, cultural, and historical complex with its many interesting environmental and architectural sites.
The total area of the park is 139,600 ha.
The main specific feature of the park is the remarkable variety of natural landscapes within a relatively small area. This distinction was determined by the particular geological past of this region, when its complex landscape was formed ~.e work of water and several glacial invasions.
The rivers of Kenozersky region belong to the basins of Baltic and White Seas.
The lakes are evenly distributed throughout the whole area of the park and represent two large groups, the first of which is Kenozersky basin, and the second is one of the largest watersheds of the European northwest, Lake Lekshmozero with its countless lakes-satellites.
The climate of this region is moderate continental, with long, snowy, cold winters, short erratic springs, moderate warm, humid summers, and dull drizzly autumns. Average January temp: -12°C, avg. July temp: +16.5°C.
Flora and Fauna
The national park is located in the subzone of the middle taiga..
The flora includes 534 species, 61 of which are registered in the Red Data Books of the Russian Federation, Karelia, Archangelsk Region, and Onega River basin. Especially interesting is the orchid family, many species of which have been placed under the protection of IUCN. Among those in the Red Data Book are: yellow lady's-slipper (Cypripedium calceolus), (Dactylorhiza traunsteineri), (Dactylorhiza russovi), (Calypso bulbosa), and (Epipactis atrorubens). Within the park's territory, 26 species of the Orchidae can be found, that is, all the species of this family represented in northeastern Europe.
Forests are the dominant vegetation type in the park. They occupy 3/4 of the area of the park, although the original forest comprises only 15%. Coniferous forests prevail (81.7%) in the forested lands.
The number of vertebrate animals in the park is nearly 270. The most common mammal species are the red mouse (Clethhrionomys glareolus), and shrew (Sorex araneus). The white hare (Lepus timidus), squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), ermine (Mustela erminea), European mink (Mus-tela tutreola), forest marten (Martes martes), otter (Lutra lutra), fox (Vulpes vulpes), and moose (Alces alces) are also common.
The list of birds includes 193 species from 15 genera. Among the usual middle taiga dwellers are the whooper swan (Sygnus cygnus), red-throated loon (Gavia stellata), bean goose (Anser fabalis), red-breasted mergan¬ser (Mergus serrator), bohemian waxwing (Bom-bicilla garrulus), and others.
The National Park provides habitat for 20 fish species. There are valuable species such as salmon (Salmo salar and S. trutta), whitefish (Coregonus Lavaretus and C. albula), (Stenodus leucichthys) and European grayling (Thymallus thymallus).
Historical and Cultural Heritage
Humans started to use these territories at lea-as early as the 4th Millennium BC. Some 20 Neolithic early-metal dwellings that belong to the so-called Kargopol Culture have been found on park territory. The Presaams who occupied northern lands in the middle of the 6th century AD were forced out by the Finno-Ugric tribes of legendary valor. In the Russian north the Finnish influence is common and well-represented.
The National Park is distinctive in the opportunity it offers to study the traditional culture of Russian North. Over a relatively small domain more than 100 historical monuments can be found, some of them are of global importance. They include buildings from the 17th-18th centuries: 64 wood architectural ensembles, churches, and chapels. Their unique artistic significance is made more valuable by the well-preserved painting of the interiors. Icons on altar-screens, pieces of worship utensils, and, unique to this region, the so-called "heavens" — monumental paintings of Biblical themes on constructional vaults - have been preserved.
The most important sites are the architectural complex of St. George's Church (16th century) in Porzhensky Village, the Troika cathedral ensemble in the Pochozersky church yard (18th century), and the church of “Origin of Truthful Trees” (1700s) in Filippovskaya village.
The current arrangement of human settlements appeared in the 16th century and has remained virtually unchanged. Since then, traditions, determined by the relationships between people and .'lire, have been preserved in the rural communities of Kenozero.
What to see
Several tourist routes on foot, by water, on ski, horseback and bus are already available. The most popular activities in the park are mushroom and berry picking and fishing, especially ice fishing.
The accommodation in the park includes a couple of cozy small hotels and village guest houses that let you immerse into local people’s life.
The programs include sight-seeing tours, outdoor activities, master-classes and folklore concerts.
Adapted from National Parks of Russia Guidebook 1997